General slocum east village walking tour


Jim Kalafus

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One block down, at # 427, stands the restored 1830s townhouse where, in 1904, the Lambeck family resided. As mentioned earlier in the thread, Mrs. Albertina Lambeck remains one of the bettter known survivors, by nature of her having been profiled on page 1 of the "First Day" edition of the New York Times. As related by the Times, she had run shrieking through the corridors of Lincoln Hospital, burned and with her head wrapped in bandages, crazed by the loss of her five children. Ultimately her ordeal had a bittersweet ending: Herman(14) and Dora(11) Lambeck survived, but Ernest(9) Henry(6) and Albert(3) were lost. A 1904 interview with Albertina appears earlier in this thread.
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Jim Kalafus

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One of the most reported incidents of June 1904 is captured in this photo. With one hundred or more funerals each day, there simply were not enough hearses to go around. Price gouging was widely reported, and soundly denounced. Much sympathy was extended towards this family who, unable to secure a hearse through legitimate means and unwilling to be extorted, set out on foot for the Lutheran Cemetery in Queens carrying the coffin of their infant. A sympathetic flower delivery man offered them a ride before they reached the bridges and the story was used as an example of the dire straights many in Little Germany found themselves in.
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Jim Kalafus

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One can cross Avenue A at East Ninth Street, enter the park and find the Slocum Memorial drinking fountain about 100 yards into the park, on the left, and behind a modern open brick structure. Recently cleaned and restored, the memorial, like much of the East Village and the Lower East Side is looking better than it has in generations.
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Mike Poirier

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Hello Jim-
Having been with you on the Slocum Walking Tour with you, this brings back great memories.
Thanks for sharing-
Mike
 

Jim Kalafus

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A cabinet photo of striking Lena Veit/Vaight (26) of 159 East Ninth Street. She and her daughter Rosa(15m) did not return from the excursion.
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Jim Kalafus

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Emerging from the Sixth Street end of Tompkins Square, one can walk a block south to the site of the Heinz family's Oyster Palace at 97 Avenue A. The structure, 'though largely intact other than the laundromat which has obscured any remaining traces of the restaurant, is still awaiting the kind of "detailing" which has made real estate treasures out of structures like the former Lambeck residence. The Heinz' story, and a photo of one of their daughters who was lost in the fire, appears at the beginning of this thread.
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Jim Kalafus

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Mike- Thanks for the support. On the next tour, which will be as soon as I return from Texas, I have several more lurid crime scenes to check out, as well as dozens more Slocum addresses. Tell me 'though, is it the allure of historical research, or the proximity of most of the sites to the Ray's Original between 7th and St Marks on Third Avenue, which draws you back?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Returning, briefly, to E. Ninth Street, we see the funeral procession for the first 29 bodies deemed too burned or otherwise damaged to be identified as it passes south along Avenue A and approaches the center of the 9th street intersection. Ultimately, 42 bodies which were recovered from the river too decomposed to be identified, and 38 which were too badly burned for ID purposes, were buried in the Lutheran Cemetery.
Meticulous notes were kept, as were what effects could be preserved, and identifications were made though 1904, and I think a handful may have come in 1905.
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Jim Kalafus

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Quoting "The Oscar" at me? I believe the follow up line to Elke Sommer's remarkable "eggroll" soliloquy was "quit tossin' that intellectual stuff at me, you give me a headache."
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BTW, does Ms Vaight not bear somewhat of a resemblance to Eleanor?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Mike P. BTW- You were on what was the first Slocum and Crime Scene Walking Tour I ever did. As I recall it was all by accident....we started out at Madison and East 50th looking for a drug store, and ended up walking as far south as Houston Street, as far west as 9th Avenue and as far east as Tompkins Square as I kept remembering other sites I wanted to photograph. I also recall that you were getting over pneumonia at the time and really weren't "up to" what ended up a 140 block walk. I also recall that in my overwhelmingly obsessive way, fixated as I was on getting more shots, I forgot that you'd had pneumonia until we entered block 141. But I'm sure that when you saw the resulting photos, the collapsed lung and the week in the oxygen tent suddenly seemed worthwhile
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Jim Kalafus

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"As soon as I hit the water I started to swim out towards the center of the stream, but the tide was so strong I went back five strokes every time I took one, so I made up my mind I would not tire myself out. So I just turned over on my back and floated.

So while I was floating, they were jumping over the side of the steamer. Twenty would jump at once, and right on top of them twenty more would jump. Then there would be a skirmish of grabbing at heads and arms, and the fellows that could swim would be pulled down and had to fight their way up. Two women who got near me shouted for me to help them, and I tried to, but they were too big and I had to break away to save myself.

When I was in the water about half an hour they pulled me on a tugboat and chucked me up on the dock."

~Willie Keppler (1904)
 

Jim Kalafus

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17 year old John Klein, of 391 East 3rd Street, chaperoned his 11 year old sister Sallie aboard the General Slocum. He was lost, but Sallie survived.
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They were part of an extended family group numbering 15 people. Sallie's account:

" I was eating lunch when the fire started. On the deck where I was sitting with my basket some children came running and I heard shouts. Then somebody said 'Fire!'

I dropped my basket and looked around for the family. There were fifteen of us. I was left by myself. The flames came up and black smoke, too. I dont think I was afraid. I dont know. I just know that I ran away from the fire and when I got to the edge of the boat I heard everybody screaming and crying and I jumped into the water.

A man and a woman were in the water where I jumped. I caught hold of the man's hair. He went under the water, then I grabbed the woman by the foot. She went down, too.

A boat passed, and a man threw me a rope, but I could not catch it and the boat went on after the others. I paddled near to a big rock. A man and a woman were on the rock. The woman held theh man's hand, and he held his leg to me, and I was pulled up on to the rock. Some of my clothes had been pulled off in the scuffle and the rest of them were taken off me. Then they gave me hot milk and took me to the hospital."
 

Jim Kalafus

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"As soon as the General Slocum came around the point, I sent back for cheesecloth and bandaging muslin. While Mrs. Smith and the nurses were busy bringing the victims to, I went back and got whisky and more bandages and cheesecloth. I tried several times to get out to the wreck but the heat was so intense I could not, until I put the skirt of my dress over my face. In that way I was able to wade out up to my knees. The call came for ladders- there was no one to go for them so I went. They were 35 feet long and dreadfully heavy, but we dragged them down to the water. I never could have done it if I had been in my senses. I did not know anything or feel anything.

I saw a boy and his mother drifting in. I lay down on the sea wall on my stomach and called out to him to hold on to his mother and I would get her out. He had his hand under her chin and was paddling along as best he could. She was unconscious and weighed, I should think, about 250 pounds. Somehow I got her over the seawall and kneaded the water out of her. She lived, I think. In reading over the list of injured I fancied the boy might be #47 in Lincoln Hospital.

As soon as the injured revived we wrapped them up in blankets and brought them up to the hospital. We stripped the place of blankets. The nurses had their shoes and uniforms destroyed by the mud and water, and torn to pieces on the rocks."

~Mrs. White Superintendent of Nurses, North Brother Island.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Mrs. White's nursing staff is seen "in action" in this blurred but interesting shot taken early on in the rescue. Most of the North Brother Island photos convey no sense of action or urgency, since within about ten minutes everyone was either rescued or dead, so this one came as a surprise to me.
 

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